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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 59: Kondor 235
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“What do you think, Zeke?” Kondor asked as both looked up at the dorm, and then at the tall grassy field on the opposite side of it. There was a good flat spot before the first hill that they had considered using for a runway before the other longer place on the south side of the college was chosen instead.
Ezekiel was a former lieutenant, and so this was right in his wheelhouse.
“The question is effectiveness vs. safety. You and I will be more effective on top of the dorm. We can see further. But we know the aliens are targeting buildings. They blew down one dorm already.”
“Right.” Kondor waited because he had his thoughts, and he wanted to see if Zeke’s ideas matched his. It was a good if simple test.
“OK, you’re not making this easy. But the greater range does us little good. I make that hill to be 256 feet away.” Zeke had out the rangefinding binoculars. “You can shoot further, but not much further accurately with an M-16. Too bad we don’t have one of those sniper rifles you told me about from your home world. The Barrette, or Barracks.”
“Barrett. Yeah, that would be useful right now,” Kondor allowed. He had never been interested in shooting a half mile, but right now he could see just how useful that could be.
“I’m saying,” Zeke began walking with Kondor following into the grass which having been unattended since the groundskeepers had been evacuated swished about their knees until he came to a position fifty feet from the dorm, “we put a ring of foxholes here, about fifteen feet apart so we can move from one to the other to confuse the enemy. That way we get the crossfire, and we cover the blindspot. Not as good shots for the rest of the college, but I like the idea of a crossfire. The enemy flying saucer is going to be freaking about the gatling gun, and we are not noticed and get a clean shot in. Bamm.” He hit his palm with his fist.
“That’s about what I thought, Zeke.”
“O.K., I’ll get Lady Shella to use her ‘psionic power’ to dig the holes, then,” Zeke said walking away, but Kondor could hear the amusement in his friend’s voice. Both of them knew that Shella said it was a magic spell connected with the elemental spirits of earth.
“You do that.” Kondor said dryly, getting in the last word. With the rangefinder back in hand, he began to look at the hills and the buildings so as to build a mental map for the anticipated battle. In his mind’s eye he could see the alien flying saucers approach. In one scenario, he saw that if they came from one direction, they would be passing in front of a hill at 210 feet, not 190 feet. They would not want to fly too close to a hill. The aliens were skilled pilots but they were also born in space. He was not sure what that meant to their flying.
He saw other directions that they could come, what maneuvers would make sense, and where, and how far away they would be, how he could tell by shadow even, and by how they obscured part of a building. Maybe I ought to ask the Parakeets to put up wind flags on top of buildings on poles to see which way the wind went? As he sat there, he soaked in a sense of how the battle would go.
Wryly, he supposed this was what his friends were talking about. When Lady Shella who was now coming his way with Zeke talked about ‘the elemental spirits of the land’ this is probably what she meant. She just had a good imagination, and thought she was talking to the Land when all she was doing was using her imagination and logic to fill in a mental picture.
But he did not say this to her. She was a nice person, and a friend, and there was no need to get in an argument with her. But it did make him feel better realizing he had figured out what was going on with Derek’s healing and such. Relieved, he smiled at her when she and Zeke arrived.
After Lady Shella arrived, he and Zeke argued a bit about best placement before Lady Shella made a comment about ‘how men are worse than women about wanting their couch just so’. After that, they quickly decided on five holes, spaced between ten and fifteen feet apart. Fascinated, Kondor watched her do her ‘magic’, and the holes with lips of upturned earth appeared. He tested out a few, made a suggestion, and she added to them, and then it was done. Thanking her, he made his way back to get his gear from the Slades’ house. He rather thought he might die out on that field, and if so, he wanted his gear close by so he did not have to hunt far in whatever new universe he landed. Zeke followed his example.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #484: Characters Maneuver. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: